There's a lot of marathon talk around at the moment so I thought it worth a reminder of some of the fundamentals in the quest for a good performance over the distance.
There's a whole host of things to consider in the lead up to running 26.2 miles, and with a few people incurring minor injuries as their event approaches they enter the business end of their training plan, keeping the basics in mind is ever more important.
Incidentally, you don't have to be training for a marathon for these tips to help. These guidelines are relevant to get the best out of training for any distance of running, or even when just running for fun!
1) Increase the duration of your long runs steadily and progressively over the weeks. Do not be tempted to make a big jump up in mileage from one week to the next, even if you feel good. Gentle adaptation for the body is best for staying injury free.
2) Complete one or two short runs during the week to supplement your weekend long run. These can be hill training or interval training sessions for maximum results in the shortest time.
3) Include one dedicated strength training session each week. You can include some strength training as part of your hill or interval sessions but try to keep one session a week for strength / core / stability training.
4) Include plenty of stretching in your schedule. I know, why spend time stretching when you could be running? Trust me, your overall progress will be best if you can follow your weekly plan without interruption by injury, and stretching can keep many likely injuries at bay. Include a few minutes to stretch after every session and also stretch various muscles as you move around your daily routine.
5) Make sure you are always well hydrated
6) Fuel yourself well at all times. Follow a consistent day-to-day healthy eating routine so that you can get the best out of each training session and also recover effectively. This doesn't mean a puritanical regime, it means striking the right balance for you each week.
7) Know when to rest. By rest I mean know when to take a day or two off training to allow your body to recover and adapt fully and also know when to get some sleep. Recovery is as much a part of your schedule as running so make it count.